Saint Louis FC and the Chicago Fire will meet for the second time in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Tuesday night. The Fire claimed a 1-0 win in the prior meeting in 2017.
Five of the 10 USL Championship clubs to advance to the Fourth Round of the 2019 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup take to the field on Tuesday night with hopes of springing a surprise against opponents from Major League Soccer and earning a place in the Round of 16.
Two Championship clubs will play host, with the Charleston Battery set to face Atlanta United FC and Saint Louis FC welcoming the Chicago Fire in a pair of contests that serve as rematches from previous editions of the historic tournament. The three other clubs – Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, Austin Bold FC and Sacramento Republic FC – will hit the road looking for a positive result.
Back in the Fourth Round for the first time since 2015, Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC heads to face a Columbus Crew SC side that is expecting a challenging contest from its Championship opponent. “They have some good players, a few guys that have been in the MLS and have experience in the MLS. I know that they are capable,” said Crew SC Head Coach Caleb Porter. “Every time you see a USL team play an MLS team, there is a lot on the line. They want to prove that they are good enough. We can’t take them lightly.”
When it comes to league form, neither Crew SC nor the Hounds have been able to find much consistency so far this season with Columbus sitting in 10th place and the Hounds in 12th in their respective Eastern Conferences. Pittsburgh has drawn seven times in its 11 league outings, including this past Saturday when it let a two-goal lead slip against Ottawa Fury FC in a 2-2 draw at Highmark Stadium. Columbus is also coming off a 2-2 result against New York City FC on June 1 in its last league outing, a result that broke a three-game losing streak but that also left Crew SC looking for its first win since May 8 when it welcomes the Hounds to its home.
The Charleston Battery face Atlanta United FC for a third consecutive season at this stage of the competition, but for the first time Charleston will be on home turf which could provide an added edge against the defending MLS Cup champion. The Battery are currently undefeated in their last eight games at MUSC Health Stadium, with the historic venue having seen its fair share of cupsets over the years.
After taking a 3-1 victory against Birmingham Legion FC on Saturday, Charleston will be hoping it can pull off its first victory against Atlanta. The Battery went close in a 3-2 loss two seasons ago when they twice held the lead on goals by Forrest Lasso and Dante Marini in the first half before second-half goals from Josef Martinez and Brandon Vasquez earned the Five Stripes victory, but with a number of Atlanta players like Martinez away on international duty this week, the contest could more closely resemble the 1-1 draw the Battery played out with fellow Championship side ATL UTD 2 on May 25 in terms of potential lineups.
Austin Bold FC will get the first chance to knock off the defending Open Cup champion Houston Dynamo when it visits BBVA Compass Stadium for the first time. The expansion side has had a positive start to life in the Championship overall, currently sitting in ninth place in the Western Conference after its 2-2 draw with the Portland Timbers 2 on Saturday night, but will need to find an improvement in its road form if it's going to displace a Dynamo side that has been firmly among the Western Conference’s contenders this season.
Bold FC’s experienced squad has gone only 1-4-2 away from Bold Stadium this season, but its lone victory came on June 1 in its most recent away game against Tulsa Roughnecks FC. By contrast, the Dynamo are an undefeated 6-0-3 in the league this season on their home turf, with former Rio Grande Valley FC attackers Mauro Manotas and Memo Rodriguez both providing firepower up front. Austin will be up for the test, but it’s going to be a serious challenge to advance.
Saint Louis FC has reached the Fourth Round of the Open Cup in every odd-numbered year of the club’s history, but on both occasions was unable to advance further with the Chicago Fire having proven an insurmountable obstacle two seasons ago when the teams met at World Wide Technology Soccer Park. This year’s clash has a different venue due to recent flooding, but STLFC could have some hope that this year might be the year when it comes to its first upset.
While it won’t be at its familiar home venue, STLFC has been solid at home so far this league season with a 3-1-1 record that has helped put it on track for a second consecutive trip to the USL Cup Playoffs. By contrast, the Fire’s road record has been its downfall so far this season with the side winless (0-5-3) in its eight away games this campaign. Chicago has plenty of quality in its squad, but STLFC’s normally consistent defense could give it enough to steal a goal and a place in the next round.
It might feel like Sacramento Republic FC and the San Jose Earthquakes have been regular combatants in the Open Cup since Republic FC was founded, but this will in fact be only their third meeting in the competition in six seasons and the first since the Quakes outdueled Republic FC 6-5 from the penalty spot after the teams had played to a thrilling 2-2 draw in the Fourth Round of the 2015 tournament. That contest saw Chris Wondlowski score twice to salvage a two-goal deficit at Avaya Stadium after Rodrigo Lopez and Emrah Klimenta had put the then-defending USL Cup champion ahead before the hour-mark, with current Louisville City FC defender Shaun Francis scoring the decisive goal for the Quakes from the spot in the eighth round of the shootout.
This time around, though, Republic FC has its own streak to try and preserve after securing victories against Real Salt Lake in 2017 and Seattle Sounders FC in 2018 earned it a place in the Round of 16 in back-to-back tournaments. With the side coming off its most impressive display of the season in a 3-0 win against Western Conference-leader New Mexico United on Saturday night, Sacramento might have hit form just at the right moment to take on a Quakes side that has been on a solid run of late itself to move to the verge of the playoff places after a four-game undefeated streak that included a 2-2 draw with FC Dallas on Saturday evening.